It's high time you met earth, a plainly titled, interactive datavisualization that offers visitors a realtime glimpse of global wind patterns. WARNING: If you're into this sort of thing, this visualization is a major, major time-suck. Seriously, it's utterly hypnotic.
The stunning interactive visualization was designed by software engineer Cameron Beccario, and while it bears a passing resemblance to NASA's Perpetual Ocean, it undoubtedly draws its greatest inspiration from the brilliantly conceived wind.fm.
But where wind.fm depicts wind-patterns for the United States only, earth – as its name suggests – visualizes weather conditions at the global scale. Another notable difference: Beccario's visualization uses color to depict varying windspeeds, and a slew of adjustable parameters to illustrate how weather patterns vary at different layers of the planet's atmosphere, from surface conditions (~100 meters above Earth's surface) clear through to the stratosphere (~26,500 m altitude). You can even select from eight different map projections on which to visualize the data.
The end-product is an interactive experience that is not only effortless to navigate but incredibly rich, informationally. The altitude and map-projection settings are quickly and easily explored, allowing differences between atmospheric layers and geographic regions to reveal themselves with a click of the mouse. The GIF at the top of this post depicts wind velocities at an altitude of 5,000 meters atop an Atlantis projection. On the left, wind velocities at the planet's surface can be seen overlaid atop an orthographic projection. Below, a Winkel tripel projection serves as a backdrop to wind-velocity data first at 26,500 meters altitude, then at 10,500 meters:
Above: Wind velocity at 26,500 meters, against a Winkel tripel Projection
Above: Wind velocity at 10,500 meters against a Winkel tripel projection
Did I mention you can also drag and zoom on every single one of the projections? Because you can. Together, these features bring the number of visualization permutations from 56 all the way to – well, infinity, basically. Here's me playing around with wind velocity data atop a Waterman butterfly projection (perhaps my favorite projection behind Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion map):
Above: Wind velocity at 10,500 meters against a Waterman Butterfly projection
Beccario has been tweeting screenshots like the one below for the past few days, but you really need to go play with this thing for yourself to appreciate it in its full, dynamic glory. Trust me on this one – even the GIFs I've included above still manage to fall short.
— Cameron Beccario (@cambecc) December 13, 2013
Why are you still reading this? Go give earth a try for yourself.